Peru strike halts production at Buenaventura mine

LIMA (Reuters) - A strike has halted production at Buenaventura's Uchucchacua silver mine in Peru, the company's chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

"At this moment no minerals are being extracted at Uchucchacua," CFO Carlos Galvez told Reuters. He said about 1,300 workers had walked out.

Local union leader Marcos Hurtado said the strike had started on Monday, with workers demanding better benefits from Peru's largest precious metals miner.

"Our demands, including payment of production bonuses from 2010 as well as protection equipment, food and shelter, have not been met," Hurtado said.

On Tuesday, Peru's labor ministry declared the strike illegal. Hurtado said workers plan to appeal the decision on Friday. If the strike is ruled illegal, the workers risk losing their jobs if they do not return to work.

Peru is the world's No. 2 silver producer. Uchucchacua produced 9.27 million ounces of silver in 2010, around 70 percent of Buenaventura's overall output. (Reporting by Teresa Cespedes and Marco Aquino)